Stories of Hope for Springtime: Growth, Renewal and Change

Earth Day is around the corner, a time when we can bask in the beauty of spring — the season of growth, renewal, hope and change. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to introduce you to some inspiring members of the global AJWS community working to protect the environment and cultivate more equitable societies. These bold activists believe a better world is possible, and they’re ready to till the soil themselves. We’re also gathering signatures on a petition calling on our leaders to take decisive action to address the climate crisis — join our movement right here.

In this edition of Stories of Hope, you’ll meet a network of young Indigenous leaders in Kenya uniting in their struggle to defend their land, resources and human rights. In El Salvador, a brave crew of LGBTQI+ activists is creating a safe space for people with nowhere else to go. And in India, a group of young women is growing far beyond what society told them they could be after completing a technology and job skills training.

Thanks to your generosity, we are able to support these changemakers and so many others in 17 countries around the world. By fueling their work, you are touching people’s lives every single day, helping communities realize their human rights and live the lives they choose. And just as we bring you their stories to inspire you, please know that your dedication to AJWS’s mission inspires us as well.

We hope you can bask in that feeling of pride, too.

— From your friends at AJWS

Around the World


Unity Is Our Strength: Inside Kenya’s Growing Movement of Indigenous Land Defenders

For generations in Senegal, politics have been overwhelmingly dominated by men. But today, a new generation of women are demanding that their voice be heard — at the ballot box and in the halls of power. AJWS grantee Association des Juristes Sénégalaises (AJS) is giving them the tools to make that change. AJS recently held leadership and political education trainings for over 150 women hungry to shape the future of their country. It worked — today, many are community leaders and elected officials. Meet some of these inspiring women as they invite one another to “come and take your power.”

Combatting Covid and Prejudice One Meal at a Time: A Community Kitchen in El Salvador

As COVID-19 swept El Salvador, leaders of LGBTQI+ organization Estrellas del Golfo (Stars of the Gulf) had a unique problem: Their community was losing income, shelter and food much faster than the rest of the population due to discrimination. The Estrellas team rose to meet the crisis head on, creating a canteen that provided food and employment for LGBTQI+ Salvadorans. Now, the canteen has become an important safe space for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations to gather, eat and feel free to be who they are.

Learning About Technology, Learning About Themselves: Women Build Their Own Lives in India

A decade ago, AJWS grantee Sadbhavana Trust launched an innovative program to train girls and young women from marginalized and rural communities in India to join an increasingly online world. Today, nearly half of the women who completed the program have paid employment, compared to 20% of women nationally; Sadbhavana’s impact has been immense. Meet four of these inspiring young women who took their futures into their own hands — and read about how one AJWS grantee organization changed their lives forever.

What We're Reading and Listening To

"Kenya Wrong to Ban LGBT Rights Groups from Registering, Says Supreme Court"

In February, longtime AJWS grantee partner National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) won a hard-fought battle in Kenya’s Supreme Court. Kenya’s NGO Coordination Board refused to recognize NGLHRC since their founding because of the words "gay" and "lesbian" in their name; the Supreme Court ruled this refusal unconstitutional. NGLHRC’s victory marks an important step toward the acceptance — both by the government and Kenyan society — of the country’s LGBTQI+ community.

"The Lessons of Purim Can Be Applied to Tennessee's Gender-Affirming Care Ban"

This opinion piece by Rabbi Philip Rice, an AJWS Global Justice Fellowship alumnus, highlights how the teachings and traditions of Purim support gender non-conforming and transgender communities. As these communities are increasingly targeted by oppressive legislation and stigma, Rabbi Rice’s inclusive viewpoint is more important than ever.

The Tennessean

"Hope and Persistence Bend the Moral Arc Toward Justice"

In this beautifully written essay for Black History Month, AJWS board member Katherine Haynes reflects back on her childhood to glean lessons that inform her leadership and activism today. “Hope is the ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed,” she writes. Prepare to be inspired by Katherine’s belief that a better world is possible.

"The Landmark Case That Could Change the Most Restrictive Abortion Laws in the Americas"

El Salvador’s total abortion ban means that a woman’s life is not taken into account if she experiences a dangerous pregnancy — and women who do seek abortions can serve up to 50 years in jail. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights recently took on the case of a woman who died after she was denied an abortion; the landmark trial could advance activists’ fight for less restrictive laws. In this powerful piece, AJWS grantee-partner Alejandra Burgos weighs in on the immense impact of the case.

El País

"Haiti’s Police Protests Highlight Armed Gangs’ Ties to Government"

In this statistic-driven article, AJWS grantee-partner Pierre Espérance from National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) explains the current dire status of human rights in Haiti. The country’s compounding crises — warring street gangs, misallocated public funds, power-hungry leaders — have led to unimaginable chaos for Haitians. It will take strong leaders supported by the people, he argues, to restore hope to Haiti.

Just Security

"To End Child Marriage, We Must Weed Out Its Root Causes"

We are honored to share an op-ed written by AJWS’s Rabbi Elizabeth Richman, Associate Director for Jewish Engagement, and Sarah Green, Senior Policy Advisor, Sexual Health and Rights. In this important piece, they articulate our unique approach to ending Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM). They urge other funders to consider that as our work is rooted in Jewish values, we are called to work for change. While Judaism has a complex history around early and child marriage, in contemporary times we hold that marriage requires a woman’s full consent.

E-Jewish Philanthropy

Take Action with AJWS

In the face of growing environmental devastation and an escalating climate crisis, the Jewish concept of bal tashchit — “do not destroy” — guides us to protect the land and water that humanity depends on. So today, AJWS is calling on our leaders in government to take bold action to support people on the front lines of the climate crisis — will you add your name to our open letter?

Take Action